The Jews Who Invented (And Continue To Reinvent) Fashion

Meet the Bloggers Who Are Recreating the Shmattesphere

Funky Cold Medine: Leandra Medine’s blog “The Man Repeller” was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best blogs in 2012.
Courtesy of Leandra Medine
Funky Cold Medine: Leandra Medine’s blog “The Man Repeller” was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best blogs in 2012.

By Jason Diamond

Published March 04, 2013, issue of March 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

It started out as a joke, but in 2012, Medine’s site was named to Time’s 25 Best Blogs, and Elle called her one of the top 10 fashion personalities of the year.

While Jewish fashion darlings are currently making livings off being Internet tastemakers for those who want an idea of what it takes to be stylish, most admit that their interest in dressing well was something that had little to do with their heritage. “Looking at vintage pictures of my father and going through his wardrobe with the discerning eye I have now gives me more of an appreciation than I once had,” Schlossman said. But “I’m not sure I would consider anybody in my family incredibly stylish or fashionable.”

When I pressed Blaut about whether her family has any roots in the garment industry, she replied, “Not at all.” While Blaut and Schlossman’s answers might make it seem like a coincidence that so many of the most popular fashion bloggers on the Internet happen to be Jewish, when these digital trajectories are lined up next to the long and storied history of American Jews and their continued involvement in the world of American fashion, it all seems like part of an ongoing narrative that tells the story of both the American fashion industry and the Jewish American experience.

Mordechai Rubinstein’s journey to menswear fame sounds almost like something out of a Sholem Aleichem story. Growing up Orthodox, Rubinstein decided to forgo a lifetime studying holy books and dishing out talmudic advice for the shmatte business. He has held several jobs in the fashion industry, from public relations maven at Jack Spade to an associate marketing editor position at the short-lived Men’s Vogue.

And since 2008, when he started his blog Mister Mort, Rubinstein has snapped photos all over the globe of those people in the streets whom he deems worthy of his lens. His choice in subjects almost calls to mind the unique characters that Diane Arbus would find interesting, not the perfect cheekbones and slender figures that traditional fashion photographers seek out. Be it an older African-American gentleman with a patchy goatee wearing a bicycle cap, a weathered blue button-up shirt and a pair of chinos, or an emergency medical technician wearing white winter cargos, Rubinstein’s choice in subjects is unique, but so is his ability to transform any of his subjects into a fashion model.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Rubinstein wears his Jewishness on the sleeve of whatever vintage shirt he’s sporting; his Twitter account is constantly full of pictures of stylish Hasidim, heavy use of “Oy” as a hashtag and even an Instagram photo from his sister’s Hanukkah party. One post featured a photography subject taking his fashion inspiration from the Hasidic men of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. Rubinstein’s reaction: “Gevalt! Egad! First thing that came to mind when I saw Isadore with his fedora and black-and-white get-up, I was immediately taken back to my yeshiva days when walking around town. A bokhur [a yeshiva student] had to have his hat and jacket on or else!”

Jason Diamond is the founder of Vol. 1 Brooklyn and deputy editor of Flavorpill.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.